Interviewing in the Medical Context: Questions, Answers, Assessments – An Interdisciplinary Approach

Open access


There has been a large amount of research done on doctor-patient encounters analysing the linguistic and discursive peculiarities occurring in these interactions. Though many relevant features of medical interviewing are well-known to the scientific public, there are still areas for further investigation. One of these areas is the sequential organisation of the dialogues between patients and doctors.

This paper aims to show the pragmatic means that contribute to the efficacy of doctor-patient talk. As a method, the contribution applies the Sociocognitive Approach to Critical Discourse Analysis. The sequential organisation of therapeutic dialogues involves the use of particular speech acts (questions, answers, assessments) that are characteristic of the comforting and confirming procedures of the therapist. The paper intends to analyse the parts of the therapeutic interview (initiation, exploration and termination) to show patient-centredness in interviewing and the sequential organisation of empathy and confirmation with the help of an interview transcript between a doctor and patient after a renal transplant.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • BUDA B. 2006. Az empátia. Budapest: UrbisKiadό.

  • BYRNE P.S. and LONG B.E. 1976. Doctors talking to patients London: H. M. Stationery Office.

  • CERNY M. 2009. The three-part structures of medical interviews. Discourse and Interaction vol. 2 no.1 pp.135-147.

  • CERNY M. 2011. Doctor-patient communication research in a digital world. Topics in Linguistics vol. 7 pp. 49-54.

  • COULTHARD M. 1977. An introduction to discourse analysis Longman: London.

  • FISHER S. and TODD A. 1983. The social organization of doctor-patient communication Washington D. C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

  • FOUCAULT M. 1969. The archeology of knowledge Trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. Routledge: London.

  • FOUCAULT M. 1994. The birth of the clinic New York: Tavistock.

  • GARVIN B.J. and KENNEDY C. W. 1986. Confirmation-disconfirmation: A framework for the studyof interpersonalrelationships. In: P. Chinn ed. Nursing research methodology Rockville MD: Aspen GRANT C. H.and ROSENFELD L. B. 2000. Patients’ perception of physician communication and outcomes. Health Communication vol. 12 no. 1 pp. 23-39.

  • LABOV W. and FANSHEL D. 1977. Therapeutic discourse: Psychotherapy as conversation New York: AcademicPress.

  • MCQUOWN N. A. 1971. Forward. In: N. A. McQuown ed. The natural history of an interview Chicago: University of Chicago pp. 1-5.

  • MISHLER E. G.1984. The discourse of medicine. dialecticsof medical interviews Norwood: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

  • MOSOVICI S. 2000. Social representation: Studies in social psychology London:Polity Press.

  • NORTHOUSE P.G. and NORTHOUSE L. L. 1998. Health communication PrenticeHall: Connecticut. PARSONS T. 1991. The social system. London: Routledge.

  • PERCY W. 1987. The message in the bottle: How queer man is how queer language is and whatone has to do with the other New York: Farrar Strauss and Giroux.

  • ROGERS C. A wayof being 1995. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

  • SACKS H. SCHEGLOFF E. and JEFFERSON G. 1974. Asimplest systematics for the organization of turn-takingfor conversation. Language vol. 50 pp. 696-735.

  • SCHIFFRIN D. TANNEN D. and HAMILTON E. E. 2008. The handbookof discourse analysis. Blackwell Publishing.

  • SHUY R. 1983. Three types of effective exchange of information in the medical interview. In: S. Fisherand A. Todd eds. The social organization of doctor-patient communication. Washington D. C. Center for Applied Linguistics pp.89-202.

  • SIEBURG E. 1969. Dysfunctional communication and interpersonal responsiveness in smallgroups. Doctoral dissertation Denver 1969. University Microfilm. No. 69-21. p. 156.

  • STUART G. W. and SUNDEEN S. J. 1995. Principlesand practice of psychiatric nursing. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby. In: L.G. Northouse ed. Health Communication. Prentice Hall. p. 62.

  • THORNBORROW J. 2002. Power talk: Language and interaction in institutional discourse. London: Longman.

  • TRINGER L. 2007. A gyόgyítό beszélgetés. Budapest: Medicina Könyvkiadό.

  • WAITZKIN H. 1989. A critical theory of medicaldiscourse:Ideology socialcontrol and the processing of social contexts in medicalencounters. Journalof Health and Social Behavior vol. 30 pp. 220-239.

  • WODAK R. and MEYER M. 2009. Methodsfor criticaldiscourse analysis. London: Sage.

  • YOUNG R.F. and LEE J. 2004. Identifying unitsin interaction: Reactive tokens in Korean and English conversations. Journal of Sociolinguistics vol. 8 no. 3 pp. 380-407.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.25

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.144
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.447

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 341 176 13
PDF Downloads 106 39 5